I should preface this by saying that the subjective opinion in the title is based entirely upon one recent doctor visit. It’s probably not true of most Korean doctors. I just wanted you to click on the link (and it worked).
I realized nearly four weeks ago that I have some sort of UTI (urinary tract infection). I found an English-speaking doctor near my neighborhood. I went to his office, where he subscribed an antibiotic and told me to return in a week.
I returned as instructed. This time, the office was full of middle-aged and elderly Korean patients. After a short wait, a nurse walked into the lobby and talked to me. Our conversation (entirely in Korean) probably didn’t help dispel the popular notion among older Koreans that foreigners are dirty and promiscuous:
Nurse: William? Is William here?
Me: I’m William. Where do I go?
Nurse: You have a UTI, right?
*Being the only white guy, a few people were staring before this conversation. Now the rest were looking at me.*
Nurse: Urinary Tract Infection? Do you understand?
Nurse: Bla bla bla UTI bla bla bla UTI.
Me: I can’t understand.
Me: I still can’t understand. I don’t speak Korean well.
Me: YES! I KNOW!!!!! Where do you want me to go?
Nurse: Ok. Go to the lab.
By the end of our conversation, the other patients had stopped even trying to be subtle or polite. I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but I heard the word “foreigner” a few times. One woman even pointed at me while she was talking. I was mortified.
The doctor prescribed me another week of antibiotics and sent me on my way. He told me to go to a specialist if the infection wasn’t gone after the second round of medication. As I left, the lobby was still full of people who were happy to stare as I paid and practically ran out of the building.
Fortunately for Korean doctors (whose business may be serious damaged by this hard-hitting journalism), they have a chance to redeem themselves today. I’ll be heading to a specialist this afternoon. Maybe the next doctor will run a tighter ship.
Until next time.